Eurovision 2023: I went to the Grand Final dress rehearsal and it was mind blowing

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Eurovision fans, you’re in for a real treat.

Eurovision fans across the world are eagerly waiting Saturday’s Grand Final, whether they’re watching it live at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool’s EuroVillage or at home with plenty of snacks.

But, do you know just how much preparation goes into pulling off such an extravagant show? We headed to the dress rehearsal to see for ourselves.

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The competing acts, presenters, guest acts and dancers will all take part in four dress rehearsals for Saturday’s show, with the first being open to accredited media, the second being closed and the final two being viewed by a ticketed audience.

The first dress rehearsal lasted for over four hours, and as well as these talented stars tirelessly singing, dancing and performing their hearts out - watching the production team is equally as awe inspiring.

Andrew Lambrou.Andrew Lambrou.
Andrew Lambrou.

Pyrotechnics: The first aspect of the show to be practiced was pyrotechnics - so flames shooting out of the stage and all of the incredible fire related wonders you’ll see on Saturday. What’s even more impressive than the flames is the production team running onto the stage with huge brushes to clean up any residue left behind that could be slippy and cause an accident. Following every single performance, they could be seen running on to the stage and having it cleaned up within ten seconds.

Presenters: Hannah Waddingham, Alesha Dixon, Julia Sanina and Graham Norton are the presenters for the Grand Final. Graham will also commentate for the UK. The group could be seen introducing the show, the acts and having banter with one and other, while reading from a teleprompter.

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Production: The dress rehearsal practiced Saturday’s entire show, from an incredible opening performance by Kalusch Orchestra, to announcing the winners - seven winners were practiced. The production team ran speedily between each act, and I genuinely was so impressed with their ability to destruct and construct entire sets in twenty seconds. Each country practiced their Eurovision song, in the full outfit they will wear in the final, and sang into directed cameras - which were linked to huge screens.

Stage directors told acts and dancers when to enter and exit the stage and which cameras to look into. Camera crews followed acts around the stage, to capture the correct frames which would be shown on television and the arena’s screens.

Anything that could be done better was redone, including all twenty acts being introduced at the flag parade at start of the show.

Kalusch Orchestra.Kalusch Orchestra.
Kalusch Orchestra.

The performances: The absolute stand out performance for me was Kalusch Orchestra, who opened the show with their winning track, Stefania. The energy, the vocals, the production - everything was incredible. Of course, they can’t win this year - but they’re my winning performance.

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The first of this year’s entries to perform was Salena and Teya for Austria, with their absolute bop, Who The Hell is Edgar? - and if I had to choose a favourite performance, it would have to be this. The lyrics might be a little odd, but there is just something about jumping up and down shouting, ‘Poe Poe Poe Poe’ that I just love.

I really enjoyed Loreen and Andrew Lambrou, for Sweden and Cyprus retrospectively, and I can’t get, ‘like a tattoo-ooh-ooh’ out of my head.

Out of this year’s acts, the most bizarre performance was of course Let 3 singing Mama SC! for Croatia, donning gowns, cowboy boots and white briefs. However, Germany’s Lord of the Lost were a surprise to me, singing their screamo song, Blood and Glitter. The performance did not feel ‘Eurovisiony’ at all, but I truly loved it.

Kaarija also impressed, breaking out of a wooden cage and just being his crazy self - and honestly, all of the other media there were loving it.

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Kaarija at the dress rehearsal.Kaarija at the dress rehearsal.
Kaarija at the dress rehearsal.

All twenty acts performed and I have to say it was difficult to believe these were just rehearsals. Every single entry performed beautifully, with no obvious hiccups or missteps.

I was excited to see Mae Muller’s performance for the first time too, and although she wasn’t my favourite out of all the acts, I thoroughly enjoyed watching our act practice to make us proud.

Special performances: The UK’s 2022 act, Sam Ryder, provided a breathtaking performance, and a beautiful tribute to Liverpool took place during the interval act - think Eurovision, Sonia, and Liverpool classics.

Final thoughts: As someone who has watched Eurovision with their dad every single year for as long as I can remember, I feel privileged to have been able to get a first look into the incredible final. From the performers, to the presenters, the production team, and the staff working at the M&S Bank Arena, it truly is a huge team effort to produce such as amazing show and they all deserve a round of applause. Eurovision fans, you’re in for a real treat on Saturday.

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